Thursday, May 10, 2012

Speed date with Kayla: TANKBORN by Karen Sandler

Thursday is Speed Date Night. What's a Book Speed Date? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book. If you want to join in the speed dating fun, sign up in the Linky below. This speed date is all about "meeting" new books. Cheers, my reader friends!

YA Science Fiction
373 pages, hardcover
First in a proposed series
Available now (Oct. 2011)
Publisher: Tu Books
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.

When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds secrets and surprises; not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night.

After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan to save the disappearing children. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, revealing secrets no one is ready to face.

Science fiction can be difficult, especially with the required worldbuilding but Karen Sandler does a nice job creating an Earth-like world on a distant planet. Set 400 years in the future, after we've used up our resources, TANKBORN follows the separate paths of Kayla and Mishalla, both "non-humans"--people created in tanks and enhanced with animal DNA. They're the lowest of the low, without even the most basic of rights.

This "date" is with Kayla, who I feel is the star of the book. She's a strong and interesting character, unwilling to accept her "place" as a slave and, though a series of incidents including a small romance with a trueborn boy, truly shakes things up in their society. I especially like her relationship with the family's patriarch, who's a bit of a rebel himself and, of course, just brimming with secrets.  Mishalla, on the other hand, is a much quieter figure, a caregiver who just wants to protect the children in her creche but who gets drawn in to a nefarious plot and Kayla's shake-up.

As for the world itself, while I would have liked more description of the animals and areas around the city, there's a detailed caste system, strong characterization, and a gritty city in which the whole drama plays out. Racism and class-ism run rampant in this society and is deftly handled through both Kayla and Mishalla's points of view. All in all, TANKBORN a series I'm looking forward to continuing.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound


  1. First I love the cover! I love when Scifi/Fantasy covers mix both popular and fantasy type of art! This one is done very well!

    The book sounds very interesting (probably not for me--more the YA part than the Fantasy part)and Kayla sounds like a wonderful character!

    Great speed date!

  2. Oh this sounds pretty good I was just thinking how there are now that many sci-fi in YA that I read and enjoyed! I'll add this one on my list! :)

  3. Hmmm, I've not heard of this before! It definitely sounds interesting. :) Glad you enjoyed reading it so much!

  4. I hadn't of this one! I gotta say, I'm most definitely intrigued! It sounds like a great read!

  5. Why isn't this book familiar to me? Though that seems to be a common question based on everyone else's comments, so clearly we all need to be as in the loop as you are Mary since this book sounds fabulous! I like the idea of it being set in a gritty city:)

  6. Yeah, Science fiction is the genre I struggle with the most. I just don't get it most times. But Kayla seems like such an admirable character.

  7. You know what's funny? I saw your review yesterday then stopped by the library to drop off my recommended reading list for the YA librarian as well as swag and this book was sitting on the shelf of new books. So I had to get it! I'm WAY overwhelmed with books but I hope I can read it before I need to return it!

  8. This book wasn't even on my radar before, but you make it sound very intriguing and I like that the worldbuilding was nicely done. I'll have to look out for this one.

    Wonderful review, Mary! :)

  9. Wow, this one sounds really original, with great characters. Glad you enjoyed it!